KOLKATA: If you are undergoing treatment at a government hospital in West Bengal, chances are that you are being treated by a doctor who had never been to a medical college.
Arrest of three “fake doctors” within a span of past 10 days from state-run healthcare units blew the lead off what police believe a major recruitment scam in the health department.
Sleuths of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigating the case put the number of fake doctors, who got employment on the basis of forged documents, in the state to anywhere between 20 and 50.
Kaiser Alam, Khushinath Haldar and Snehasis Chakraborty treated patients for years before they ran out of luck.
What baffled investigators more is that Alam even worked for more than a year at a leading corporate hospital in Kolkata. A doctor of the hospital certified him as a “meritorious physician.”
Incidentally, chief minister Mamata Banerjee holds both the health and home portfolios.
The revelation comes as a major embarrassment for Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress government, which showcases health department as a success story.
The CID has now cast its net far and wide across Bengal to scour for such fake doctors. They suspect several health department officials and former medical college employees and doctors are involved in this racket that not only forged documents but also appointed doctors, in some cases, without any documents at all.
“There may be 20, or more. We are conducting the investigation all over the state and it will take some time to scour the entire state,” a senior CID officer leading the probe told HT. Another officer put the number past 50.
According to CID sources Alam and Chakraborty produced fake MBBS degrees to get the government job, while Haldar pulled off quite an achievement – he secured the job without producing any documents at all.
Significantly, these doctors are not quacks, but those who claim to possess MBBS and higher degrees though they never got admitted in such courses.
Investigators are not yet certain whether Alam even passed the plus two level board exam. His basic identity documents such as voter’s identity card seized from his residence are also suspected to be forged.
The sleuths suspect a former head of a medical college in north Bengal and his close relative are the kingpins of the racket. Sources said one of them prepared documents of a fake MBBS degree for Alam. Also on the radar of the sleuths is a senior official of the health department.
The CID has now sought educational details of the doctors who have been working in the government-run health institutions across the state for the past 10 years.
Armed with the database, the sleuths plan to tally the list of the doctors who are working in the state hospitals. “Our primary focus is on the state-run hospitals and healthcare units, though we will also look into the private hospitals too,” said a senior CID official privy to the investigation.
The investigators are also trying to find out whether the trio issued death certificates and carried out surgeries. “If they issued death certificates, it might lead to legal complications. If the next of kin of those who died goes to court, it can lead to imponderables,” said an investigator.
Haldar was employed in Madarihat block primary health centre in Alipurduar district. Alam was employed in a block primary health centre in Chopra in North Dinajpur and Chakraborty was working at Dhumpara primary health centre in Jalpaiguri.
Six IPC sections including fraud were slapped on them.